Elders have the blessed privilege of creating an atmosphere where young people and others can hear and respond to God's call upon their lives. It is vitally important that pastors create that atmosphere for all people as God calls them into service for Him. It is also vital that pastors and elders create that atmosphere where people can respond to God's call to ministry. While God calls every believer to serve Him, God calls some to be pastors, evangelists, ministers, and teachers of all kinds. This special calling into vocational or bivocational ministry is what Neil Knierim called "the cornerstone for effective ministry."
Here are some ideas to help you intentionally call out the called in your congregation.
Preach the Word of God Boldly
In your preaching, emphasize how God uses men and women to accomplish His purpose on earth. Tell stories of those biblical heroes of the faith. Preach a message designed especially to challenge young people and others to hear the voice of God and offer themselves at His altar.
Expose Young People and Others to Those Who Have Made a Difference
Bring to your pulpit men and women who have been used of God in a powerful way in His kingdom. Missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and other ministers can be powerful role models for those with whom God may be dealing. Try to make it possible for those who have acknowledged God's call or may be dealing with that issue to spend time with the hero. Take these same groups to conventions and meetings where they will hear and meet people who are used powerfully of God.
Pray for a Spirit of Revival
The revival meeting held once or twice a year is important. God may choose these times to make His call clear to someone in your church. But a spirit of revival should be present the rest of the year. Provide time for testimonies throughout the year. When someone is called to preach, let him exercise his gift in your pulpit.
Depend Completely on the Holy Spirit
Ask God to fill you and your people with His Spirit to create a sense of openness as the Lord speaks to individuals about His will for their lives.
Provide Witnessing and Soul-winning Opportunities
Provide witness training and soul-winning opportunities to all the congregation. Personally invite those who have been or may be called to the ministry. Also provide opportunities for mission work to these same people. Mission trips are precious times when young people and others can exercise their gifts.
Lift up the example of those who have gone out from your church to serve the Lord. Pray for them. Recognize them when they return home for a visit. Celebrate the victories God brings to their ministries.
Calling out the called is a great joy for any pastor. Whether you are privileged to minister one who is called or a hundred, lift up and celebrate God's calling and sending out people to serve Him vocationally or bivocationally.
Adapted from Richard P. Oldham, "Building a Climate for Calling Out the Called." Church Administration, April 1998, pp. 3-7.